A POTENTIAL new witness has been identified in the heartbreaking case of a missing toddler that has puzzled police for decades.
Cheryl Grimmer was just three years old when she vanished from an Australian beach in 1970.
Cheryl Grimmer is believed to have been kidnapped from a changing area at the seaside in 1970, when she was aged three[/caption]
Carole Grimmer with her three sons, Stephen, Ricki and Paul, the day after Cheryl disappeared from Fairy Meadow Beach, NSW[/caption]
The military join police in the search for three-year-old Cheryl[/caption]
A potential new witness has come forward with information that could lead police to answers in the mysterious case of Cheryl Grimmer, pictured aged three[/caption]
Her family had migrated to Fairy Meadow, New Southfrom Bristol about two years prior in search of a better life.
Both of‘s parents, Carole and John, sadly died without ever learning what happened to their daughter.
But Cheryl’s brothers Ricki, Stephen, and Paul, who have never stopped looking for their sister, might see the case solved in their lifetimes with a new witness now reportedly speaking to police.
The potential new eyewitness, whose identity has been kept private, was a child himself when Cheryl disappeared.
But what he claims to have seen the day the three-year-old vanished was “etched in my mind” forever.
The man says he remembers seeing a teenage boy leave the female changing rooms at Fairy Meadow Beach with a small child on a windy afternoon in January, 1970 – when he was seven.
It is understood Cheryl disappeared from the same changing rooms on January 12, 1970, when her brother turned away from her for a few seconds.
The three-year-old had spent a few happy hours playing with her brothers in the surf, enjoying the summer holidays, when winds picked up dramatically.
Cheryl’s mum Carole gathered her family’s things while her three sons took their sister with them to the beach’s shower block.
The possible eyewitness explained on a new episode of BBC podcast Fairy Meadow: “When I glanced back at the toilet block, the profile of the guy was sort of full-stride with this baby in his arm, just kind of screaming and yelling at his hip, like low on his hip.
He added: “I heard this screaming of the kid. That’s what caught my ear. What was that shrieking sound? I turned around and that’s what I saw.”
The man believes he can pinpoint the memory of the boy – who he said was of average build with medium-dark– to January 12, 1970 due to the day’s windy conditions.
With no English skills, having just relocated with his family to Australia from eastern Europe, and no idea a child was believed to have been abducted, the man did not think to approach police.
He said: “We had only been in the country for three or four weeks. We didn’t have a TV and we never read the newspapers at that time.
“We were oblivious to what was really going on. It wasn’t even on my radar that it was such an important thing that I saw.”
A friend of the man recently emailed the Fairy Meadow podcast with details of his story, which she said he had recounted for several years.
Former Det Sgt Damian Loone has since spoken to the man about his “compelling” testimony.
He said it was the first account anyone had provided of a teenage boy carrying a child from the beach.
Former Det Sgt Loone said: “He sounded very credible to me – and what he says he saw on that particular day is very important and it should be fully investigated.”
Three other witnesses, who were aged nine, ten, and 12 when Cheryl went missing, previously described seeing a teenage boy loitering in the area.
Detective Inspector Brad Ainsworth of New South Wales Police said in 2016 the teenager “was about 17 or 18 at the time so he’d be in his early sixties now.
He added: “It’s a big burden to carry around for nearly 50 years.”
Cheryl’s eldest brother Ricki said he is now “praying with everything I have left that police will now follow through and investigate… I won’tuntil it’s over. And the only way it’s going to be over is when I hear the truth.”
The fresh development comes after officers discovered a confession made to police by a teenage boy a year after Cheryl disappeared.
A man in his sixties was charged with murder in 2016, only for a judge to rule later that the confession could not be presented as evidence in a trial.
The defendant, known only by his police codename “Mercury”, was freed and all charges – which he denied – were dropped.
New South Wales Police announced a $1million (£524,000) reward for information leading to a successful conviction in the case in 2020.
It is understood NSW Police made contact with the potential new witness in the past few days.
Cheryl’s niece, Ricki’s daughter, Melanie said last year: “We keep campaigning for Cheryl.
“She never had the chance to grow up and be my auntie, so I want her voice to be heard.”
John Grimmer with his daughter, Cheryl Grimmer, who disappeared from Fairy Meadow[/caption]
Cheryl is believed to have been abducted while on holiday with her family[/caption]
Cheryl’s brother Stephen, who was just five when his sister went missing[/caption]
A man (left) extradited from Victoria in connection with the 1970 abduction and murder Cheryl Grimmer is escorted by NSW police at an airport in 2017[/caption]